Intermarriage During the Holocaust: Jewish and Romani “Mixed” Families in Nazi Europe
August 9–18, 2023
Applications due February 10, 2023
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum invites applications for a research workshop entitled Intermarriage during the Holocaust: Jewish and Romani “Mixed” Families in Nazi Europe. The Mandel Center will co-convene this workshop with Benjamin Frommer, Department of History, Northwestern University, Michaela Raggam-Blesch, Institute for Contemporary History, University of Vienna, and Tatjana Lichtenstein, Department of History, University of Texas, Austin. The workshop is scheduled for August 9–18, 2023, and will take place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Applications are welcome from scholars affiliated with universities, research institutions, or memorial sites and in any relevant academic discipline, including anthropology, art history, economics, genocide studies, geography, history, Jewish studies, law, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, religion, and Romani studies, and others. Applications are encouraged from scholars at all levels of their careers, from Ph.D. candidates to senior faculty.
At the infamous Wannsee Conference eighty years ago, no topic consumed more time than the heatedly debated question of the fate of intermarried Jews and so-called Mischlinge in the “Final Solution.” Jews who had non-Jewish spouses, and especially their “mixed” offspring, fundamentally challenged the Nazis’ Manichean worldview and complicated the Third Reich’s genocidal program. Nazi ideologues also considered Romani Mischlinge to be a danger to the Volksgemeinschaft because their supposedly inherited criminality threatened to compromise the 'racial purity' of the German people.
From the start of Nazi rule, familial ties to non-Jews offered the intermarried avenues to lessen the social isolation and material deprivation produced by the ever-tightening vise of persecution. Nonetheless, intermarried families faced a particularly anguished decision that homogamous couples did not: whether to divorce in the hope that property and children could be better protected by the “Aryan” partner.
Across Europe the policies enacted against intermarried families varied greatly. For both intermarried Jews and Roma, connections to the majority population determined how the war was experienced, including when and even whether they faced transport to enclosed ghettos, concentration camps, and killing centers. Among Jews, the intermarried were not only more likely to survive, but were far more certain after the war to find living family members, including their spouses, who helped facilitate reintegration and restitution.
In the postwar era, film and television scriptwriters have disproportionately featured “mixed” families in their portrayals of the Holocaust in a likely effort to foster empathy among non-Jews. By contrast, for decades after the war scholars generally treated the fate of the intermarried as marginal. In recent years historians have more intensely studied the experience of “mixed” families and policies enacted against them (particularly in the core Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), but the subject still remains largely undeveloped and unintegrated into the paradigmatic narrative of the Holocaust.
This workshop focuses on intermarried Jews and Roma/Sinti, their spouses, and their “mixed” offspring across Europe during the Nazi era. Our goal is to stimulate a comparative, integrated, and interdisciplinary discussion which brings scholars of the Jewish and Romani experience and experts in different geographical areas and methodological approaches into conversation with one another.